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Survivor Wiki

Russell Dennis Hantz[1] is a contestant from Survivor: Samoa, Survivor: Heroes vs. Villains, Survivor: Redemption Island, and Australian Survivor: Champions v Contenders (2018).

Regarded by many as the series' most notorious villain, Russell is infamous for his brash and callous gameplay, deliberately causing chaos at camp, finding several Hidden Immunity Idols unaided by clues, and eliminating his competition as ruthlessly as possible. Despite his considerable strategic prowess, his general unpleasant personality and his ineptitude at jury management have contributed to two losses at the Final Tribal Council. His notoriety finally caught up with him in subsequent seasons where he has been voted out at the first opportunity.

Russell's goals from the start of Samoa were to manipulate and control his peers. He started off by sabotaging his tribe in order to weaken them, which would allow him to control them. He then took control of his tribe by forming alliances with everyone and taking out anyone that challenged him or caught onto his plans. He found three Hidden Immunity Idols, which would be crucial during the post merge phase. Despite his minority Foa Foa Four alliance coming into the merge at an 8-4 deficit, he used an idol and his ability to flip two members from the rival alliance, to his alliance to overcome the deficit and take control. He reached the Final Tribal Council, but his deceitful tactics and arrogance caused him to finish second to Natalie White in a 7-2-0 vote.

Returning in Heroes vs. Villains as an unknown player to his fellow competitors, Russell repeated his game in Samoa. He made two bold moves, giving his idol to Parvati Shallow which resulted in Tyson Apostol's blindside, and tricking JT Thomas into believing that he was on the outs on his tribe which caused JT to give his idol to Russell. He reached the end of the game again, making him the second player in Survivor history to reach Day 39 on back-to-back seasons. However, his poor social game and mistreatment of the Heroes tribe caused him to finish third place with zero jury votes.

When he played for a third time in Redemption Island, all the castaways in this season were completely aware of his gameplay as they watched him play during the airings of Samoa and Heroes vs. Villains. Although he tried to trick the others by saying he would play differently, Russell quickly reverted to his old tricks, prompting many members on his tribe to throw the third challenge and vote him out for the first time in his Survivor career. He lost his the subsequent Redemption Island duel to Matt Elrod, eliminating him for the first time in his Survivor career.

Russell became the first contestant from Survivor (U.S.) to return for an international season when he appeared on Champions vs. Contenders, where he attempted to replicate his former style of gameplay. However, after showing his idol to strongarm his tribe, his tribemate Moana Hope managed to turn the majority of the tribe against him, and orchestrate his elimination.

Russell's legacy is hotly disputed as his display of strategic prowess and ability to locate Hidden Immunity Idols have enabled him to reach the Final Tribal Council in his first two seasons. However, his interpersonal conduct rendered him virtually ineligible to win a game predicated on social relationships. He is at the core of wide-ranging debates about in-game ethics and a winnable Survivor game.


Retrieved from

Russell Hantz (36)
Hometown: Dayton, Texas
Occupation: Oil Company Owner

Russell Hantz's personality speaks for itself when he proudly displays a missing tooth that he refuses to fix! This married father of four is visually memorable. Standing tall at only 5'6", he is built like a brick house with a bald head. At 200 pounds of pure muscle, Russell's solid figure and sharp tongue has helped him carve out a multi-million dollar business in the oil-tanking industry.

A huge Survivor fan, this self-made man built his business from scratch by working hard, speaking his mind and stepping on anyone who got in his way. Russell won't apologize for his style of game play either saying, "I'm not going out there to make friends. I'm just not doing it. But everybody is going to think I'm their best friend, because I'm just such a lovable character."

Russell can't wait to get in the competition and show "these morons how it's done" and he "plans to play the game dirtier, smarter and more cunning than anyone can imagine." It is those skills that have allowed him to achieve his biggest accomplishment in life and that is being able to provide for his family.

Russell is married with four children and currently resides in Dayton, Texas. His birth date is October 10.[2]

Retrieved from

Russell Hantz (37)

Tribe: Villains
Hometown: Dayton, Texas
Current Residence: Dayton, Texas
Personal Claim To Fame: "Starting my oil tankering service."
Inspiration in Life: "My grandfather."
Previous Finishes: Samoa: Runner-up
Favorite Past Moment: "Blindsiding Kelly."
Previous Survivor He Respects Most: "I don't respect any of them."
Previous Survivor He Respects Least: "I don't respect any of them."

Why Did He Come Back? : "Because I have to put these kids in their place. I'm not done playing just yet!"[3]

Retrieved from

Russell Hantz (38)
Current Residence: Dayton, Texas
Previous Seasons: Survivor: Samoa and Survivor: Heroes vs. Villains

Russell Hantz was a first time castaway only 2 years ago, but has quickly become one of the most notorious villains to ever play Survivor. He returns to Survivor: Redemption Island more prepared than ever before. "I'm ready for this. I'm more ready for this than I ever have been."

As a self-made millionaire who built his business by working hard, speaking his mind and stepping on anyone who got in his way, Russell will do anything to win the game of Survivor. He is known for back-stabbing his allies, lying and cheating, but he is proud of his title as a villain. "The image that I have as a villain, that's fine with me because this is how I play the game." Only time will tell if this strategy will pay off or if once again he will come up short.

What does he think of Survivor: Redemption Island? "It's gonna be history. Survivor history!"[4]

Retrieved from

Age: 45
Occupation: Survivor USA Super Player
State: USA
Tribe: Champions​​​​​

Regarded by super fans everywhere as Survivor's greatest villain, Russell is one of the most notorious characters in the US show's history.

Considered to be one of the most influential contestants of all time, Russell is ready to take a crack at his Aussie counterparts, making it the fourth time he has played the game.

Famous for his stints on Survivor: Samoa, Heroes vs. Villains and Redemption Island, Russell has made it to the end but never won the title of Sole Survivor.

"I have no choice in this. I have to win. I have to prove to everyone that I can do it and I have to prove to myself that I am as good as people say I am."

Russell is one of only five contestants to be inducted into the Survivor Hall of Fame in 2010 and he is also one of the only competitors to ever make it to the finals in more than one season.

Lying, stealing, sabotaging his fellow tribe members, there's nothing Russell won't do to win. Father of four and recently a grandfather, he won't let anything get in his way saying, "When I'm out there, I am a blank screen. My family don't matter until I get off that island. I'll be playing for them but I won't let my emotions get in the way and I won't let it make me soft.

"I'm very excited to take on the Australians, they won't know what's hit them when they see me walking out on day one."[5]



Russell was placed on the Foa Foa tribe. He originally had a plan to dictate the entire tribe's voting politics, in which he was successful. In the first challenge, he was chosen for the leg of the race that required strength by tribal leader Mick Trimming. Foa Foa won the Reward Challenge. Right from the beginning, Russell demonstrated his preference to play through lies and deceit, creating conflicting alliances with every tribemate (mostly women) he came into contact with. He even lied about his personal life, claiming that he was a Hurricane Katrina victim. Still not contented, he became fond of wreaking psychological havoc whenever possible, even sabotaging his own tribe, as seen on Foa Foa's first night, where Hantz dumped all the water containers and burned Jaison Robinson's socks.

This plan took its toll on Foa Foa, whose subsequent failure in eight out of ten tribal challenges forced them to sacrifice six of their ten members. Marisa Calihan, Betsy Bolan, and Ashley Trainer were systematically eliminated after they caught on to Russell's dirty tactics. The only boot on Foa Foa that Russell had no authority over was Ben Browning, who he didn't want to vote out but reluctantly sided with the rest of the tribe. After Galu lost Russell Swan before a supposed Double Tribal Council twist on Day 15 because of a severe medical condition (which Hantz claimed was a partial victory for Foa Foa, since the rival tribe still lost a member), another loss sent Foa Foa back to Tribal Council, where Liz Kim was voted out when Hantz felt she was no longer needed. With only twelve people remaining, this prompted an early merger, and the two rival tribes were merged into a new tribe called Aiga. At the merge, the former Galu members outnumbered Foa Foa 2 to 1 (giving them an 8-4 majority) which created a grim outlook towards any chance of survival by the remaining (former) Foa Foa members.

His craftiness scaled new heights when he made an unthinkable Survivor first, finding several Hidden Immunity Idols without using the provided clues. With these idols at his disposal, he became nearly invincible at Tribal Council.

With the tribes merged, Russell gradually rallied the Foa Foa Four (consisting of tribe leader Mick, Jaison Robinson, Natalie White, and himself) to victory when they concocted a "divide and conquer" scheme, designed to make the former Galu tribe members turn on each other. This proved effective when Natalie turned the Galu women against cocky Erik Cardona, who was blindsided at Aiga's first Tribal Council (unknown to everyone at the time, they effectively flushed Erik's own Hidden Immunity Idol in the process). Russell, on the other hand, used his idol, though no votes were cast against him. Russell again surprised everyone when he revealed another idol at the following Tribal Council. This time, however, the effects devastated the former Galus, because it was revealed that they had voted for him. With all seven of the votes against Russell cancelled out by the idol, only the four remaining votes cast by the former Foa Foa tribe were counted, sending an unsuspecting Kelly Sharbaugh to the jury in a 4-0 vote.

After two subsequent blindsides of former members of the Galu tribe, Russell convinced Shambo Waters to shift allegiances to the former Foa Foa tribe members, as she felt unhappy with her own tribe and had a fierce hatred towards Laura Morett. This gave the former Foa Foa tribe the edge they needed, resulted in the remaining Galu members (eventually including Shambo herself) to be picked off one by one, starting with Laura. Just when they thought that their victory was imminent, the remaining Foa Foa member's aspirations of making it to the final four were thwarted when Brett Clouser, the last remaining Galu member, went on to win a crucial Immunity Challenge, forcing the former Foa Foa members to eliminate one of their own, a task they had not faced in eighteen days. After Brett's win, Russell's closest ally Natalie became the next intended target, but Russell had plans of his own, and secretly plotted to take her to the end, assuming that he would get more jury votes. He turned the tables on Jaison, who was eliminated instead.

After a close Final Immunity Challenge, Russell won immunity over Brett. In a last-ditch effort to stay alive, Brett tried to convince Russell to eliminate Mick instead of himself. Though Russell considered Brett's idea, the remaining Foa Foas prevailed as the last Galu member took his fall in a 3-1 vote.

At the Final Tribal Council, Russell was chastised for being arrogant and overly two-faced. Despite garnering votes from Shambo and John Fincher for his aggressive gameplay, he eventually lost when the other jurors voted for Natalie instead. At the Reunion Show, Russell attempted to bribe Natalie into surrendering the Sole Survivor title to himself for $10,000, and eventually $100,000, arguing that he was more deserving than she was, but Natalie politely declined. His newfound infamy, however, did earn him the Sprint Player of the Season title, which included a $100,000 award. Jeff Probst polled the jury on who would have voted for Russell if he had taken Shambo and Jaison to the Final Three instead, and four people raised their hands which would be enough to guarantee him the win due to two people saying that they would vote for Shambo and one person saying that they would vote for Jaison.

Episode Tribe
Challenge Challenge Type Sit-Out? Result
1 Foa Foa Chief's Choice Reward No Won
Yank Your Hank Immunity No Lost
2 Schmergen Brawl Reward/Immunity No Lost
3 Sea Crates Reward/Immunity Yes Lost
4 Bocce In A Box Reward No Lost
Well Stacked Immunity No Won
5 Samoa Smoothies Reward No Lost
Sack Attack Immunity No Lost
6 Roll With It Reward No N/A1
7 Brain Food Reward No Lost
Canoe Dueling Immunity No Lost
Tribes Merged, Day 19
8 Aiga Nut Cracker Immunity Lost
9 Coconut Code Reward Lost
Square Peg, Round Hole Immunity Lost
10 Get Hooked Reward Won
Spear Me The Details Immunity Lost
12 Survivor Auction
Drop A Log Immunity Lost
13 Fauxconut Bowling Immunity Lost
Walk On Water Immunity Lost
14 Coco Plunk Reward Won
Combo Platter Immunity Lost
15 Tentacle Immunity Lost
Over Extended Immunity Won
Runner-Up, Day 39
^1 Russell S. from Galu collapsed at the challenge, causing the challenge to be stopped with no winner.

Episode Russell H.'s
Voted Against
Russell H.
1 Marisa -
2 Betsy -
3 Ben -
4 Foa Foa Tribe Immune
5 Ashley -
6 No Vote
7 Liz -
8 Erik -1
9 Kelly Brett, Dave, John, Kelly,
Laura, Monica, Shambo
10 Laura;
12 John -
13 Dave -
Monica Brett, Monica
14 Shambo -
15 Jaison -
Brett Individual Immunity
Jury Votes
for Russell H.
John, Shambo
Runner-Up, Day 39

^1 In "All Hell Breaks Loose", Russell H. used a Hidden Immunity Idol, but did not negate any votes against him.
^2 In "Tastes Like Chicken", Russell H. used a Hidden Immunity Idol, negating 7 votes against him.
^3 In "The Day of Reckoning", the vote ended with a 5-5 tie between Laura and Natalie, forcing a revote. Russell H. did not change his vote on the revote.

Heroes vs. Villains[]

Russell's actions in Samoa gave him a place in the show's 10-year anniversary season as one of the series' most notorious villains, albeit with none of the other contestants having seen him play. Assigned to the Villains tribe, Russell stated that he very much looked forward to playing the game with people who respect what it is. On the first day, he repeated his original strategy of aligning with the women, Danielle DiLorenzo and Parvati Shallow, since the latter was marked as a serious threat to the seven other tribemates. However, Russell's strategies were put on hold as the Villains won two consecutive Immunity Challenges. While not shunned by the other seven members yet, Russell join the rest of the tribe in voting Randy Bailey out after losing the Day 8 Reward/Immunity Challenge.

After Randy's elimination, the Villains won a Reward Challenge on Day 9, earning them additional tools to set up camp. While unpacking the items, Russell found a note sticking out from a knife's scabbard. Rob Mariano, who also saw the note, compelled Russell to share its contents. The note turned out to be a clue to the whereabouts of a Hidden Immunity Idol buried somewhere at camp. Sandra Diaz-Twine, a member of Rob's alliance, made an ultimatum, saying that whoever tries to look for the idol will be targeted immediately. Despite the warning, Russell searched for the idol anyway and eventually found it, but he was caught by Sandra. The incident revealed the two opposing alliances in the tribe: Russell, Parvati, and Danielle on one side, and Rob, Sandra, Tyson Apostol, Courtney Yates, Coach Wade, and Jerri Manthey on the other. The tribe, however, remained dominant, winning five consecutive challenges.

On Day 15, a Double Tribal Council twist sent the Villains to their second Tribal Council. That afternoon, Rob proposed a simple solution to eliminate the threat of Russell's idol: split their six votes between Russell and Parvati (Rob, Sandra, and Tyson would vote Russell, while Courtney, Jerri, and Coach would vote Parvati), eliminating one of them, assuming if either person plays the idol. That way, it would enforce a tie between whoever Russell, Parvati, and Danielle voted, and whoever between Russell or Parvati remained vulnerable; and with the majority of Rob's alliance eligible for the re-vote, it would be clear that whoever did not play the idol will be sent home. Aware of Rob's plan, he tricked Tyson into voting for Parvati to save himself. At Tribal Council, Russell drew the idol as expected; but pulled a double-cross by handing his idol to Parvati. But in a stunning turn of events, Tyson fell for Russell's trickery by casting a fourth vote against Parvati, eliminating himself after a 3-2-0 vote.

Despite his successful blindside of Tyson, Russell's alliance was still outnumbered 5-3. That is, until he made moves on faltering members Jerri and Coach, promising to take them to the end. Jerri accepted, with Coach still conflicted. After the Villains lost the next Immunity Challenge, Russell was ready to take down Rob with Jerri's support. Coach ultimately decided to not go with either alliance and vote off Courtney. Rob only had three members now and despite his efforts, Boston Rob was voted out by Russell's alliance in a 4-3-1 vote. This would send the Villains to a downward spiral.

Before the Day 19 Reward Challenge, the Villains mistook the Tree Mail for a cryptic message for the upcoming merge. The tribe showed up to the challenge bringing all their belongings, including their dismantled shelter and supplies. The Heroes tribe noticed that only the male Villains were eliminated. Deducing that Parvati ran a women's alliance, J.T. Thomas whispered to Russell to "hang in there," implying his intention to align with him. The Villains lost the challenge, forcing them to return to camp empty-handed and re-establish their shelter.

Knowing Russell's aggressive nature to those who tried to target him, Sandra seized the opportunity to save Courtney by tricking Russell into voting the floater Coach. After losing the Day 21 Immunity Challenge, Russell had arguments with Danielle on which between Coach and Courtney should go home. With the alliance unsettled on who to vote for, Russell and Jerri joined Coach and voted for Courtney, while Danielle and Parvati joined Sandra and Courtney, voting Coach out 4-3.

On the Day 22 Reward Challenge, Coach's elimination made the Heroes set in believing that the women were running the tribe. Seeing that the Heroes were making a mistake in believing such, Russell acted vulnerable to them, pretending that he needed help. The Villains won the challenge, winning themselves an all-you-can-eat buffet from Outback Steakhouse. While the Villains enjoyed their lunch, Parvati saw a clue to the Villains' re-hidden idol tucked in her table napkin. To ensure her own fate in the game, Parvati left Russell uninformed and only disclosed the clue to Danielle. Over at the Heroes tribe, the tribe decided to give Russell their own Hidden Immunity Idol should the Villains lose the next Immunity Challenge. J.T. even wrote a letter to Russell, telling him to use the idol and vote Parvati out. The Villains indeed lost the Immunity Challenge in Day 24; and while shaking hands with the enemy, Russell accepted the Heroes' idol through Colby Donaldson. Russell showed the idol and read J.T.'s letter aloud to Parvati and Danielle, mocking his reputation as a former Sole Survivor. Though Courtney begged Parvati for her survival, Parvati was not able to convince Russell to keep her, and Courtney was voted out, 5-1.

On Day 25, the tribes merged with five members each. The Heroes were surprised that Parvati was still in the game. Russell fabricated an elaborate story about him and Parvati playing conflicting idols that night. Sandra, the last remaining member of her alliance, warned the Heroes that there was no all-female alliance, and Russell was the mastermind behind all that has happened in the Villains tribe. Wanting to test his true loyalties, the Heroes openly told Russell they would vote for Parvati. In order to save Parvati for a second time, Russell handed the Heroes' idol to her. Unknown to Russell, Parvati already possessed the Villains' idol. Sensing that she might not be the Heroes' target after all, Parvati, now having two idols, gave both to Sandra and Jerri, much to Russell's surprise. Russell fumed over not knowing that Parvati had her own idol after giving one to her, saying that leaving him uninformed was unnecessary.

Russell felt Sandra would flip to the Heroes, and convinced Candice Woodcock to betray her former tribe and vote off Amanda Kimmel. This was successful, and Sandra did not flip to the Heroes, and Amanda was voted off in a 6-3 vote. That night, Russell found another Hidden Immunity Idol, thanks to Danielle, who obtained a clue to its whereabouts after winning the Reward Challenge. He used the idol at Tribal Council, but for naught, as nobody voted for him.

The next day, Russell was confronted by Rupert Boneham for his deceptions, where Russell derisively called him "the second coming of Christ" before giving him a middle finger. Russell then declared that whoever threatens him will go home. At the Immunity Challenge, where Russell's ally Parvati won individual immunity, a twist was revealed to the castaways, revealing that there was another Hidden Immunity Idol buried at camp. Returning from the challenge, Russell and the rest of the tribe searched for the idol. That afternoon, Russell saw Rupert tucking something in his pocket, suspecting that it was the idol. Unknown to the tribe, Sandra found it and kept her possession a secret to everyone, and Rupert had merely placed a rock in his pocket as a decoy, to force the Villains to split the vote between him and Candice. This prompted Jerri, Danielle, and Parvati to rethink their voting options. At Tribal Council, Russell, Sandra, and Jerri joined Rupert and Colby by voting Candice out after a 5-3 vote.

After winning individual immunity the next day, Russell worried that Parvati was more loyal to Danielle than she was to him, and decided to pit them against each other. Russell discussed Parvati's blindside to Danielle, and told Parvati that Danielle was gunning for her. Russell decided to vote out Danielle, and although her and Parvati learned the truth, Jerri sided with Russell to vote out Danielle after Danielle unintentionally revealed Jerri was fourth in their alliance. To gain the majority, Russell told the two remaining Heroes, Colby and Rupert, that he would keep them if they voted Danielle out with him. They agreed, and Danielle was voted out 4-3.

A loved ones Reward Challenge took place On Day 34, where Jerri won and invited Parvati and Sandra, and their respective loved ones, to join her. Russell, angry that Jerri did not pick him, decided to turn on Parvati by making a new alliance with Colby and Rupert. They agreed and Russell felt that Jerri could join his new alliance. Russell's plans were foiled when Parvati won individual immunity. Unknown to Russell, Sandra had found the idol; and while she did not need to use it, the Villains again prevailed, voting Rupert out, 4-0. Russell and the Villains would then vote off the last member of the Heroes tribe by voting Colby out 4-1 on Day 37 due to their belief that he was the biggest jury threat.

On Day 38, in a closely-contested Final Immunity Challenge between Jerri, Parvati, and Russell, Russell prevailed, securing his spot at the Final Tribal Council. That afternoon, Russell felt that they should eliminate Jerri. Under the premise that Jerri might win, Russell covered up his true intention in voting Jerri out: He assumed that Jerri would vote for him at Final Tribal Council, and taking Sandra to the end would be an easy win for him. Parvati, on the other hand, believed that Sandra should go, as the Heroes, who had five seats in the jury, would favor her. In the end, Russell sent Jerri to the jury anyway, after a 3-1 vote.

On Day 39, Sandra wanted to gain revenge on Russell for eliminating her alliance, refusal to even bathe, and all the other atrocities he had done. She retaliated by secretly burning his hat, to her and Parvati's entertainment. Russell tried to look for his hat, not knowing it was already in ashes. At the Final Tribal Council, Russell faced heavy criticism from the jury, mostly from the Heroes; as he was castigated for not only for his numerous betrayals, but for his mistreatment of the Heroes, and his sense of self-entitlement. The Villains also praised Parvati and Sandra's gameplay more than Russell's. In the end, Russell received no jury votes, Parvati got three, and Sandra was crowned Sole Survivor for the second time, with six, much to Russell's disgust.

At the live Reunion Show, Russell launched a tirade after his loss, calling Sandra "undeserving," and the game "flawed." Russell then revealed that he had kept and laminated the letter written to him by J.T. when he gave up his Hidden Immunity Idol to him. In response, J.T. grabbed the letter and attempted to burn it in a fire set up in front of the castaways and the audience which erupted laughter, but Russell managed to retrieve it before it got burned. Russell's notoriety gave him his second consecutive Fan Favorite Award, winning him an extra $100,000.

Episode Tribe
Challenge Challenge Type Sit-Out? Result
1 Villains Battle Dig Reward No Lost
Lock, Load and Light Immunity No Won
2 A Crate Idea Reward/Immunity No Won
3 Sumo in Mud Reward/Immunity No Lost
4 Slip, Slide & Score Reward No Won
Roll With It Immunity No Won
5 Schmergen Brawl Reward No Won
Blind Cube Crisis Immunity No Won
6 Rope-a-Dope1 Immunity No Lost
Reward Yes Won
7 Basket Brawl Reward No Lost
Caught in the Web Immunity Yes Lost
8 Fauxconut Bowling Reward No Lost
Mud Slide Immunity No Lost
9 Chimney Sweep Reward Yes Won
Strung Out Immunity No Lost
Tribes Merged, Day 25
10 Yin Yang Get a Grip Immunity Lost
11 Pacific Shuffle Reward Lost
House of Cards Immunity Lost
12 When It Rains, It Pours Immunity Lost
Pegatory Knockout Immunity Won
13 Pass the Bucket Reward Lost
Keep It Up Immunity Lost
14 Offer It Up Immunity Lost
Blind Maze Immunity Won
Second Runner-Up, Day 39
^1 The tribes competed in separate individual Immunity Challenges where the winners from both tribes competed against each other for tribal reward.

Episode Russell's
Voted Against
1 Villains Tribe Immune
2 Villains Tribe Immune
3 Randy -
4 Villains Tribe Immune
5 Villains Tribe Immune
6 Tyson Rob, Sandra
7 Rob Courtney,
Rob, Sandra
8 Courtney -
9 Courtney -
10 J.T. -
11 Amanda -1
12 Candice -
Danielle Individual Immunity
13 Rupert -
14 Colby -
Jerri Individual Immunity
Jury Votes
for Russell
Second Runner-Up, Day 39

^1 In "Jumping Ship", Russell used a Hidden Immunity Idol, but did not negate any votes against him.

Redemption Island[]

Russell returned to compete for a third time along with Heroes vs. Villains archrival Rob Mariano to settle their iconic rivalry. After a draw of buffs, Russell went to the purple Zapatera tribe, who visibly resented his inclusion to the tribe because of their complete familiarity and knowledge of his previous gameplay as they watched him play during the airings of Samoa and Heroes vs. Villains. When the tribe arrived at camp, Russell stated he would be playing differently than his previous seasons and he would not do the things he was notorious for in the past, though his tribemates remained suspicious. Russell however led his tribe to win the first two Immunity Challenges. During this winning streak Russell recruited Stephanie Valencia and Krista Klumpp, the only two who were open to work with him.

The three found the clue to the Hidden Immunity Idol and began searching, not knowing their attempts were futile because Ralph Kiser already found the idol. Russell was then called out by Ralph for stealing the clue which angered the former. With no idol to protect him, Russell feigned possessing one, telling Stephanie to hold on her bag suspiciously the whole day so it would look like she was "protecting" the idol.

Hungry for Russell's downfall, the six other tribe members formed their own alliance and planned to throw the Day 8 Immunity Challenge to eliminate Russell. They informed Russell that Francesca Hogi won the first duel (which in truth Matt Elrod won) to throw Russell off-guard, only to split the votes between him and Stephanie. Zapatera did lose the Immunity Challenge with Russell surmising that he was set up. Russell got wind of the plan and attempted to coerce Julie Wolfe to vote with them with Russell reiterating he was a changed man. At Tribal Council however, Russell's plea to Julie was to no avail as she remained with the majority, forcing the game's first three-way tie. In the revote, the majority alliance unanimously voted Russell out, 5-1. Furious, Russell headed for Redemption Island, swearing to come back. Russell further realized his tribe's treachery upon learning that Matt had won the last duel and not Francesca.

Russell vowed to defeat Matt. However, in a surprise turn of events, the supervillain finally fell from grace after being defeated in the following duel on Day 10, which officially eliminated Russell. Much to the spectators' surprise, Russell started crying after losing, stating he had really changed and was not given the opportunity to show it. Russell congratulated Matt for defeating him and left the Redemption Island Arena. During his final words statement, Russell stated that he would never play again because he felt he had nothing else to prove to himself and his family. However, at the Reunion Show, he told Jeff Probst to "keep his number" for a future season.

Episode Tribe
Challenge Challenge Type Sit-Out? Result
1 Zapatera Push It Uphill Reward/Immunity No Won
2 Smash, Grab, Smash Reward/Immunity No Won
3 Spin Cycle Reward/Immunity No Lost
Voted Out, Day 8
4 Zapatera Domino Effect Duel Lost
Eliminated, Day 10

Episode Russell's
Voted Against
1 Zapatera Tribe Immune
2 Zapatera Tribe Immune
3 Ralph;
Mike, Ralph, Steve;
David, Julie, Mike,
Sarita, Steve1
Voted Out, Day 8
4 On Redemption Island
Eliminated, Day 10

^1 In "Keep Hope Alive", the vote ended with a 3-3-3 tie between Russell, Ralph, and Stephanie, forcing a revote. David, Julie, and Sarita changed their votes to Russell on the revote, sending him to Redemption Island.

Champions v Contenders[]

Russell was placed on the Champions tribe. While his experience with island living proved to be invaluable, the tribe remained skeptical about him, promptly branding him as a threat.

To his frustration, Russell believed the tribe was not keen on talking strategy. Russell returned to his old ways by luring in a seemingly unwitting woman to be his ally, this time, in former Miss Universe Australia Monika Radulovic, though Monika and Samuel Hinton, the second person Russell recruited, mutually agreed to shoot down Russell's offer. Also true to his legacy, Russell had found the Hidden Immunity Idol unaided by clues and was determined to "teach" the Australians how to play the game. Russell was spared from elimination however, as the Champions won the first Immunity Challenge.

Russell later flaunted the idol for the tribe to see and strike fear in them. Believing that showing the idol would open opportunities for him, Russell made an alliance with Jackie Glazier, Mat Rogers, and Damien Thomlinson, and as a sign of trust, Russell swore on his wedding ring. Unknown to them, Russell, who had since divorced to Melanie, brought multiple rings for the game. The suspicion over Russell furthered as he was caught by Moana Hope scheming with Damien later that night.

Following the tribe's loss at the second Immunity Challenge, Russell attempted to sow chaos by throwing multiple names to prevent a majority vote against him. Meanwhile, Moana, unbothered by Russell's antics, rallied to oust Russell, though the campaign found some roadblocks with Lydia Lassila insisting to instead eliminate perceived weak links such as Damien and Shane Gould. At Tribal Council, Russell proudly wore his idol to further intimidate his tribemates, leading to a snide exchange between him and Moana, with Moana advising him that if his gameplay had not worked in his previous seasons, he should probably change it.

Russell ultimately did not play his idol; a critical error as Moana called out his bluff and still amassed enough numbers for a 4-4-2-2 tie between Russell and Jackie. At the revote, though Damien remained loyal to Russell by voting Jackie, the rest of the tribe took the opportunity to oust Russell and flush his idol out in a 9-1 vote.

Episode Tribe
Challenge Challenge Type Sit-Out? Result
1 Champions Slip, Slop, Slap Reward No N/A1
Over the Top Immunity No Won
2 Sumo at Sea Reward No Won
Dive Masters Immunity No Lost
Voted Out, Day 5
^1 This Reward Challenge was played in six rounds, with the winner of each round taking a different reward item.

Episode Russell's
Voted Against
1 Champions Tribe Immune
2 Damien;
Moana, Samuel, Shane, Sharn;
Brian, Lydia, Mat, Moana, Monika,
Samuel, Shane, Sharn, Steve W.1
Voted Out, Day 5

^1 In "Episode 2", the vote ended with a 4-4 tie between Russell and Jackie, forcing a revote. Brian, Lydia, Mat, Monika, and Steve W. changed their votes to Russell on the revote, eliminating him from the game.


  • On January 9, 2010, Russell attended Survivor's 10-year anniversary party along with all of his Heroes vs. Villains cast mates.
  • In February 2010, Russell appeared on Late Show with David Letterman as Top Ten List Presenter #9 along with nine of his Heroes vs. Villains castmates.[6]
  • Russell's infamy earned him a spot in Xfinity's Survivor Hall of Fame in 2010, being one of its first five inductees.
  • Also in 2010, Russell was arrested for battery charges after engaging in a fight with a woman in his bar. He was released the same day without bail but received misdemeanor summons.[7]
  • In 2012, Russell and his older brother Shawn (Brandon Hantz's father) hosted their own reality show called Flipped Off that aired on A&E. It ran for seven episodes from April 28 to June 16, 2012. During one of the episodes, Russell was handcuffed after pushing a police officer over a dispute of how long it took for them to arrive after Russell called them to report that his lumber was stolen from a garage of one of the houses he was working on.
  • Russell made a cameo appearance on Big Brother 14 on the first episode after his brother, Willie Hantz, got invited to be a contestant at the Big Brother House. He was also mentioned frequently during that season by Willie and several other contestants. Willie was expelled on Day 14 for headbutting a fellow contestant in the nose and for throwing pork rinds at another contestant.
  • In 2012, Russell and his wife Melanie divorced, a fact known to viewers during Champions v Contenders (2018). They had four children together. Russell is currently single.[8][9]
  • Russell launched a podcast called "The Russell Hantz Show" on May 22, 2017.[10]
  • On December 22, 2020, Russell appeared in an episode of Catfish.[11]
  • On March 15, 2022, Russell announced that he would be auctioning off the entirety of his Survivor memorabilia on eBay because of the negative impact he believed the show had on his life.[12]
  • In January 2023, Russell was accused of not issuing payouts for several fantasy football leagues he was involved in (the largest of which reportedly being $1,400) with participants claiming that Russell had pocketed the money for himself. The oldest of these alleged schemes date back to August 2018.[13]

Spoiling Controversy[]

  • In 2011, Russell was accused for spoiling the results of Samoa and Heroes vs. Villains. In a statement by Survivor spoiler James "Jim" Early (also known among Survivor fans as Missyae), he claimed his source of information was Russell and was informed of very important information, such as challenge wins and accurate elimination orders of both seasons. Early also stated Hantz even tried to implicate his fellow contestants to the controversy. The spoilers reached the online Survivor forum, Survivor Sucks.[14] Hantz denied the allegations, saying he respected the producers and would not betray them. In August, 2011, A lawsuit was filed against Early for "misappropriation of trade secrets" and "tortuous interference with contract." But due to the cooperation of the accused, the case was dismissed. According to the Survivor Rulebook, disseminating such information before its intended release is a breach of contract, with a $5,000,000 lawsuit awaiting any violators.[15]
  • Months before the premiere of Survivor: Redemption Island, Early leaked its alleged cast, which included model Carrie Prejean and boxer Kimbo Slice. Early again purported that Hantz was his source. In answer to the rumor, Russell mocked Early's incorrect information in a Facebook post. Neither Prejean nor Slice appeared on the season.

Feuds with Brandon Hantz[]

He didn't do one thing right. He went out there to change the Hantz name? To change what I did?! That doesn't even make sense to me!

—Russell Hantz (on his nephew's showing on Survivor: South Pacific)

  • Over Survivor: South Pacific's run, Russell bashed his nephew, Brandon Hantz, because of his perceived terrible performance. He, along with Nicaragua alumnus Shannon Elkins, poked fun at Brandon over Twitter. Brandon took the tweets personally, starting a public Twitter feud between him and his uncle. In 2012, Russell and Brandon again were in a conflict, after Russell allegedly spread a rumor that Brandon is gay. Brandon launched his tirade in a YouTube video, debunking the said rumor, even as going far as revealing that Russell was living in a trailer. The feud died out eventually and Russell and Brandon made amends.[16]
  • Russell appeared during the South Pacific Reunion Show as an audience member, where he was asked about his thoughts on his nephew's time on the show. Russell was visibly appalled by his nephew's perceived poor performance and vilified him, receiving boos from the crowd. In response, Jeff Probst jokingly suggested "Brandon vs. Russell" as a future season. A year later, Russell lauded Brandon for his different approach in Survivor: Caramoan.



  • Russell is the fifth person to play Survivor four times, after Rob Mariano, Rupert Boneham, Ozzy Lusth, and Cirie Fields. He would be followed by Sandra Diaz-Twine and Parvati Shallow.
    • He and Sandra are the only two of these seven to have one of those appearances be on a foreign version of Survivor.
  • Russell is the only four-time castaway to never participate in a tribe switch of any kind.
    • If only his American appearances are counted, he is one of two three-time castaways with this distinction, the other being Coach Wade.
    • Russell currently holds the fewest days lasted for a four-time contestant with 93.
  • Russell holds the record for possessing the most Hidden Immunity Idols across multiple seasons with seven, six of which he found himself and one which was given to him by J.T. Thomas.
    • If only his American appearances are counted, he still holds the record, having possessed six idols across his three American seasons.
    • Despite this, he has only correctly played an idol twice.
  • Russell in Samoa set the record for the most idols found in a single season with 3. This has since been matched by Tony Vlachos in Cagayan, Tai Trang in Game Changers, Ben Driebergen in Heroes vs. Healers vs. Hustlers, and Rick Devens in Edge of Extinction. While Rick possessed four, he only found three as one was given to him for winning the first return challenge on Edge of Extinction.
  • In his first two seasons, Russell made it to the Final Tribal Council. In his latter two seasons, he was the first person voted off his tribe and the second person eliminated from the game.
  • At both Tribal Councils where Russell was voted out, a revote occurred.

Survivor (U.S.)[]

  • Russell originally applied for the second season of another Mark Burnett CBS series Pirate Master. However, Pirate Master was cancelled after one season because of anemic ratings.[17]
  • In Samoa, Russell and his fellow finalists, Mick Trimming and Natalie White set the record for the most Tribal Councils attended in a single season with 16 (including the Final Tribal Council and the Joint Tribal Council after Russell Swan's Evacuation).
  • Russell lost 60 lbs. during his time in Samoa.[18]
  • Russell was not known to the other Heroes vs. Villains cast members as Samoa had just finished filming when they arrived. Samoa and Heroes vs. Villains were filmed only a few weeks apart. As a result, Russell is the first returning contestant to be completely unknown to the rest of his season's cast.
    • Russell is the first returning player to compete on his second season before his first season premiered. He was followed by Malcolm Freberg, Zeke Smith, and Michaela Bradshaw.
    • Russell was the only contestant in Heroes vs. Villains who had never previously played with any of the other contestants.
      • He and Rob were the only two contestants who were the only representatives of their original season, though Rob had played with several other contestants in All-Stars.
    • Because Russell reached the Final Tribal Council in Samoa, had Russell won the game, he would have been the first Sole Survivor to play a second season without knowing he was a winner. However, Russell lost to Natalie.
  • Russell is the first player to use a Hidden Immunity Idol on another player and negate enough votes to save them from elimination.
  • Russell is the second of two players to win the Fan Favorite Award twice and on two consecutive occasions, following James Clement.
  • Russell was the only male member of the Villains tribe to make it to the merge.
  • Russell is the first man to make to the Final Tribal Council twice.
  • Russell is the only member of the Heroes vs. Villains Final Three to not be a former Sole Survivor. This makes him the only non-winner to lose to a former winner at the Final Tribal Council.
  • Russell is the first castaway to receive no jury votes as a returning player.
  • Russell holds the record for appearing on three seasons in the shortest time period, participating in three out of four consecutive seasons from Samoa to Redemption Island.
  • Russell is the first contestant to be voted out following a three-way tie.
  • Russell is the first man to lose a duel on Redemption Island.
    • Russell is the first returning player to lose a Redemption Island duel, and the only one to do so in the one-returnee-per-tribe format.
  • Russell was the only man to be eliminated pre-merge in Redemption Island.
  • Out of the original five castaways inducted into the Survivor Hall of Fame in 2010, Russell was the only one who has never won Survivor.
    • However, Rob had not won Survivor yet at the time he was inducted.
  • Russell's younger brother Willie competed on the fourteenth season of Big Brother.[19]

Australian Survivor[]

  • Russell is the second American contestant to appear in a foreign version of Survivor. The first was Rupert Boneham, who made a guest appearance in the Israeli version as part of a reward. However, Russell is the first American former contestant to actually compete in a foreign version of the show. He would be followed by Sandra Diaz-Twine.
  • Russell is the oldest man on the original Champions.
  • Russell and Joan Caballero are currently tied for the most votes received at a single Tribal Council on Australian Survivor, with 13.


  8. Fishbach, Stephen (May 2008, 2012). "Stephen Fishbach Talks to Russell Hantz About Flipped Off".,,20591347,00.html. Retrieved July 14, 2013. 
  9. Cesternino, Rob (June 1, 2014). "Russell Hantz on His Family's New Show, Tony and Survivor Cagayan". 
  14. Dehnart, Andy (January 31, 2011). "Survivor Spy Exposed". The Daily Beast. Retrieved December 26, 2012. 
  15. PDF copy
  16. Ashley, The (December 1, 2011). "Hantz Family Has Been Torn Apart by 'Survivor'". The Ashley's Reality Roundup. Retrieved December 26, 2012. 

Survivor: Samoa Castaways
Foa Foa
S19 ashley t
Foa Foa
S19 ben t
Foa Foa
S19 betsy t
S19 brett t
S19 dave t
S19 erik t
Foa Foa
S19 jaison t
S19 john t
S19 kelly t
S19 laura t
Foa Foa
S19 liz t
Foa Foa
S19 marisa t
Foa Foa
S19 mick t
Foa Foa
S19 mike t
S19 monica t
Foa Foa
S19 natalie t
 Russell H.
Foa Foa
S19 russellh t
S19 russells t
S19 shambo t
S19 yasmin t
Survivor: Heroes vs. Villains Castaways
S20 amanda t
S20 candice t
S20 cirie t
S20 coach t
S20 colby t
S20 courtney t
S20 danielle t
S20 jt t
S20 james t
S20 jerri t
S20 parvati t
S20 randy t
S20 rob t
S20 rupert t
S20 russell t
S20 sandra t
S20 stephenie t
S20 sugar t
S20 tom t
S20 tyson t
Survivor: Redemption Island Castaways
S22 andrea t
S22 ashley t
S22 david t
S22 francesca t
S22 grant t
S22 julie t
S22 krista t
S22 kristina t
S22 matt t
S22 mike t
S22 natalie t
S22 phillip t
S22 ralph t
S22 rob t
S22 russell t
S22 sarita t
S22 stephanie t
S22 steve t
Australian Survivor: Champions v Contenders (2018) Castaways
AUS5 anita t
AUS5 benji t
AUS5 brian t
AUS5 damien t
AUS5 fenella t
AUS5 heath t
AUS5 jackie t
AUS5 jenna t
AUS5 lydia t
AUS5 mat t
AUS5 matt t
AUS5 moana t
AUS5 monika t
AUS5 paige t
AUS5 robbie t
AUS5 russell t
AUS5 samuel t
AUS5 shane t
AUS5 sharn t
AUS5 shonee t
 Steve K.
AUS5 stevek t
 Steve W.
AUS5 stevew t
AUS5 tegan t
AUS5 zach t